'Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge' Finally Kills Off Popular Franchise

Pirates of the Caribbean | © Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Pirates of the Caribbean | © Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Photo of Cassam Looch
Film Editor22 May 2017

Having stumbled his way through four previous instalments of this popular pirate franchise, Johnny Depp‘s attempt to resurrect the character that made him a global superstar – as well as reignite his own floundering career – feel like a desperate last hurrah.

Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is desperate to lift the curse on his father (Orlando Bloom), whom we previously saw onboard The Flying Dutchman. Vowing to sail the seas in search of the Trident of Poseidon (an artefact that can break all curses), Henry teams up with Carina (Kaya Scodelario) an amateur astronomer who holds the key to a map that leads the way to the trident.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), meanwhile, has problems of his own. His crew has abandoned him, his beloved ship the Black Pearl is still stuck in a miniature bottle and to top it all, a Spanish ghost captain (Javier Bardem) is intent on killing one of the last pirates that has escaped him.

'Pirates of the Caribbean' | © Disney Pictures

As well as a host of familiar faces on board for the ride, we also have a trio of likeable newcomers. Thwaites (Son of a Gun) and Scodelario (The Maze Runner) easily step into the roles vacated by Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom from the original trilogy of movies.

The youngsters are left to do the majority of the running about and romance, which is something of a good thing as Johnny Depp looks like he is about to collapse in every scene. The actor looks a shadow of his former self and even under the masses of make-up this role allows him to hide behind, he looks worn out.

The fourth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series felt like an anomaly. It raised more questions than it answered and left loose ends still hanging. To its credit, Salazar’s Revenge (or Dead Men Tell No Tales as it is known in America) feels closer to the story. It’s self-contained, which if taken on its own merits is not bad at all. If, however, you think back to the other films in the franchise, you do begin to struggle following the narrative thread from one sequel from the other.

The Curse of the Black Pearl (the first film) remains the highlight thanks to its lean set-up and fresh approach. The follow-ups feel bloated in comparison, and one major flaw is the consistent use of spooky sailors as rivals for Sparrow. Just which one was Blackbeard and which one was Davy Jones?

©Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Javier Bardem meanders through the film, mumbling something or other about wanting revenge on Jack Sparrow for some perceived slight from decades before. There is more fun to be had with Henry and Carina, the latter of whom in particular is a fun, feisty and fresh addition to the series.

Adding to the sense of resolution is the arc given to Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Depp gets to spar with his old partner once more, but apart from that he merely ghosts through the film in cruise control.

Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow | ©Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is a decent summer blockbuster that will gain even more credence in the future if it remains the final instalment of the series. Please Johnny, leave it well alone now.

Rating: ***

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is released in the UK on May 25.

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